In June, the 19-year-old from Jupiter, Fla., was wondering how he would ever break into the open-wheel ranks, despite having achieved a huge amount of success in karting both in North America and overseas. Now, just a few weeks after being awarded a coveted Team USA Scholarship and displaying his talents in Europe, Askew has added to his rapidly growing list of accomplishments and opportunities by winning the inaugural Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 $200K Scholarship Shootout at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Askew secured the $200,000 prize earlier this week after beating out 17 other competitors representing nine countries and five continents, virtually assuring himself a drive in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. USF2000 represents the first step on the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires, which offers scholarships at every level to allow talented young drivers to progress from the grassroots of the sport to the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500.
“I’ve prepared for this opportunity as much as I could,” said Askew, who was interviewed today on the INDYCAR stage at the Performance Racing Industry trade show (right) in Indianapolis. “I knew this (Shootout) could be my chance to break through to the MRTI ladder. There is no other young driver support system in the world like the one Mazda has put together. I am very proud to be a part of their program and I will be working very hard to prepare for what’s to come.
“I want to keep this momentum going and fight for the USF2000 championship next year. I want to thank everyone who has believed in me and supported me through these past few months. The Team USA Scholarship has opened more doors for me than I could have ever imagined and I will be forever grateful.”
Askew earned an introduction to the Team USA Scholarship by virtue of some success in a couple of Formula Masters China events in 2015 and a one-off appearance earlier this year in a Skip Barber Racing Summer Series at Road America. He was invited to join a dozen other budding stars for a round of interviews during the Verizon IndyCar Series weekend at Mid-Ohio, then selected to contest a shootout hosted by Cooper Tires and the Lucas Oil School of Racing at Palm Beach International Raceway in Florida. Askew again played a starring role and was chosen with long-time close friend and karting rival Kyle Kirkwood to follow in the footsteps of many gifted young Americans since Jimmy Vasser in 1990 by flying the patriotic Team USA Scholarship colors in England at both Brands Hatch and Silverstone.
Askew more than lived up to expectations by finishing on the podium in five of his six races, including an impressive run to second last month in the Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone despite treacherously wet conditions (left, photo courtesy of JakobEbrey.com).
“Oliver has taken the bull by the horns and is reaping the benefits,” said Team USA Scholarship founder Jeremy Shaw. “I am proud of his progress these past few months. If he continues along this path I truly believe he has what it takes to establish a successful career in this sport.”
About Team USA Scholarship:
The program has been providing opportunities for talented American race car drivers at an early stage in their careers since 1990. Supporters include Doug Mockett & Company, the Road Racing Drivers Club and SAFEisFAST.com, Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, Team Penske, Chip Ganassi Racing, Honda Performance Development, Basecamp, Robertson Racing, CXC Simulations, Lucas Oil School of Racing, PitFit Training, RaceCraft1, Sparco USA, Bell Racing, RACER Magazine, Speedstar Management, Styled Aesthetic and Manifest Group.